Lately, I have had an opportunity to pull back from all the busy activities of ministry and to simply stop, reflect, and think.
I remember as if it were yesterday, sitting in bible college hearing the tragic stories of pastoral burnouts and pastoral failures of men who burned like shooting stars. I look back even the past several years, I am reminded of friends I have personally known, who have fallen and how that can be so painful and hurtful to the body of Christ.
I have learned and grown from personal experience watching a few incredible leaders, and some, not so great leaders. They have taught me a lot of lessons about what-to-do and what-not-to-do in life and ministry.
Here are three lessons I’ve learned about leadership over the past 10 years.
1. The Solo-Leader
There’s always one or two of these in every leadership team aren’t there? The one who has the mentality that ministry is about himself/herself and is not able to serve the community well for its future?
Scripture says, “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” (Ecc 4:9-10).
A solo-leader refuses to recruit to develop people and deploy others into the field. For this very reason, when solo leaders leave the team/organization, there’s a huge void that brings the effectiveness of the whole as a body to the bottom of the chart quickly.
Pastor, you are not able to wear all the hats yourself and do all the ministry yourself. Not a celebrity culture of a personality-driven ministry, but the whole. For Christ the head of the church and the only solo leader the body needs (1 Cor 12:12-27; Eph 4:15-16; Col 1:18). The church is in need, but not from you alone.
Rely on others. Delegate the ministry. Shepherd a team of people.
Shared ministry rather than solo piloting can accomplish much more for God’s kingdom. This can take longer and not the rapid fast growth result you will get. But by taking this health approach, this will take you and your ministry further without feeling burned out at the end.
2. The Silo-Leader
This often can happen in organizational structure, but also within a leader itself. Silo by definition is, “a system or department that is isolated from others.”
Silo leaders do not allow accountability and are not able to have the check-and-balance with their time and treasure. Too often, silo leaders can suck the resources from the overall vision and the mission and derail the team from its original purpose.
As a result? There’s much confusion and ultimately leads to frustration for the overall team as there’s a disconnect from the organization. A silo-leader robs the ministry and divides the attention from the most important matters of the overall health of the organization. A silo leader lacks a biblical warrant and a structure of accountability.
Pastor, stop asking questions such as, “How does this impact my life?” but instead, “How does this impact us as a whole?”
That question perhaps will lead you as a leader to better play as a “team player” for the entire body.
3. The Super-Leader
With the recent rise of superhero movies all over the media, people naturally are gravitated by this ideology of having superhero leaders!
However, in reality, there’s no such thing as super-leaders are there? For if we all had to be honest, we are all broken, and we need a greater, truer, and stronger leader than amongst ourselves. Looking at a fellow broken-sin-tainted sinner (Rom 3:23) by placing them on a pedestal is putting unrealistic expectations and can crush the spirit of the pastor/leader.
Pastor, you’re trying to carry too much of a great load. You’re not superman. Make time to rest and recharge form the busy-work of all that is happening. Be human and show the real you. This will remind the body that you and I are utterly dependent on Christ’s strength and the need of one another in ministry (1 Thess 5:11; 1 Pet 4:10; Heb 13:16; 1 John 4:7).
So, ask these questions; What is my strength, and what is my weakness? Be transparent and honest as you come to the body in humility by saying, “I can no longer do this superstar show anymore. I am not superman.”
This will open up opportunities to disciple and train others, rather than simply creating an “audience” who are disengaged from the mission of God. By humbling ourselves from that spotlight, this will create an opportunity to disciple others for ministry, rather than doing all the ministry which simply robs the ministry from others.
Look to the Supreme-Leader: Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ the supreme leader said, “I will build my church” (Matt 16:18).
I = pronouncement of Christ (Christ’s church)
Will = promise of Christ (Christ’s purpose)
Build = power of Christ (Christ’s work)
My = possession of Christ (Christ’s possession)
Church = people of Christ (Christ’s bride)
From the beginning till the end, it is not our church, but it is Christ’s church (Rom 12:4-5; 1 Cor 12:12). The ministry of the church is not dependent upon you. We must remind ourselves that the church is Christ’s and His alone (Eph 1:22).
Rest assured in the finished work of Christ (John 19:28-30). Even during all the pandemic, all the riots, all the persecution around the world, Christ will still build His church! I echo the words of what R.C. Sproul said, “The church is not dead because it cannot die.”
This world can at times cause fear and weariness, but the church is not in trouble for it rests in the finished work of Christ. The world can threaten religious liberty, the government can take away tax status, authorities can throw Christians in jails, but none can stop Christ building His church and His gospel to spread across the globe (Mark 16:15). Satan indeed cannot stop the church in its mission to preach the gospel to the nations.
Once again, as we look at the whole context of the text, the words of Christ are indeed true, “And I tell you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matt 16:18).
Let these words calm the dark night of the soul. May God’s calm sovereign assurance reign as you lay your head on the pillow tonight.